A rocky start is nothing new for Goran Dragic.
Despite the expectations that come with making the All-NBA 3rd team and posting career-high averages in virtually every statistical category, it took a while for Dragic to establish himself as a star last season. During the first nine games of the 2013-14 regular season, Dragic averaged only 15.7 points per game while shooting 45% from the field and 27% from three-point range.
And this year, the numbers through nine games are quite similar: 14.6 PPG on 46% shooting from the field and 28% shooting from deep.
Even so, the Dragon seems to be finding his groove again despite a tough 2-2 week for the Suns. Because the Suns-Clippers game was only last night, it will be factored into next week's article. The only games that mattered for this week happened against Golden State, Brooklyn and Charlotte.
There were plenty of candidates. Dragic, while looking better, is still by no means a transcendent superstar. At least not yet.
Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green led the Suns to two victories over the Warriors and Nets, but both struggled against the Hornets. Eric Bledsoe put up a fantastic performance against the Hornets but was not a major factor in the other games.
Dragic was the most consistent of the four guards, and for that he is the player of the week. In the three games, he averaged 16.3 PPG and 3.7 APG and shot 21-for-39 from the field (54%). Furthermore, after starting out the season missing 11 consecutive three-pointers, Dragic has made 8 of his last 20.
We are still waiting on Goran to churn out his first dominant performance of the season. Last night against the Clippers he put up 15 points in the first half but was unable to maintain that production and finished with 19. Against the Warriors he put up 13 points in the first quarter alone, but once Andre Iguodala was put on him he stopped looking to score and finished with only 19.
And in a way that is the main problem with Dragic; whereas the other guards are often too aggressive, he is too passive. And that is not entirely his fault. The arrival of Isaiah Thomas has put Dragic in a situation where he is not usually the primary ball handler. Without the ability to run plays and create offense both for himself and for others, he is less effective. Dragic's usage rate has dropped from 24.5% last season to 21.3%, and his assist percentage has been cut in half.
Dragic should certainly be applauded for his great performance this past week. And yet, one must wonder if he will have the opportunity to take it a step further and become the player that we fell in love with last season. He's just as efficient, but will he have both the confidence and touches required to single-handedly lead the Suns to victory when they need him to step up?
Because this is an article/video combo, here is the video. It has all of the fancy moves that we have come to expect out of the Dragon; three-pointers, fast break opportunities, step back jumpers, spin moves, and great passes. Here's to hoping that we'll see plenty more of this throughout the year.